It’s been a while …

Welcome to June. Okay, so it’s nearly over already, but when I finally dragged myself back here today I was shocked to see that nine months have passed since my last post. Three quarters of a year in which I’ve been busy. A full gestational term during which my five year old became six, and my toddler became a preschooler. Eeek!

So where have I been? Every time I sat down to write, something felt wrong. So I procrastinated. I clean floors, tidied round, found (Shock! Horror!) OTHER WORK to do. Today the problem finally clicked. Over the months I’ve realised that my passion for Kiddiespace’ as an idea is about more than just ‘doing’ – it’s about celebrating the way in which our kids feel and experience life in general too, and how we, as parents, interact and engage with them in that. My self-imposed frame for the blog was stopping me from writing what I wanted to write. How un-creative is that?

And so I’m back, and my focus has shifted a little – the remit of Kiddiespace is no longer just about doing stuff (although that remains really important!). It’s also a place for reflecting on the space our kids inhabit, and our role as parents in helping them grow into that space and blossom as human beings in their own right.

A place where Kiddie and Parent spaces collide.

 

 

Do the Strop

© Creatista | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Creatista | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Do you ever feel like smiling when your kids are acting out?  I know that might sound like a weird reaction, but if yours are anything like mine, you may relate to this.  From time to time their attempts at throwing the mother of all strops result in me catching a fit of the giggles.  I could laugh until my sides split at some of the oh so serious faces they pull.  I appreciate that this is not the response of a sensitive and nurturing parent.  But I’m only human.  And their expressions are to die for.  And on some days I feel I am touching hysteria myself.

Admittedly I restrain myself if I sense their outburst is coming from a place of deep upset.  And this can be in relation to the simplest of things.  My daughter erupted the other day because little brother had disrupted the precision-made fairy bed she had set up on the coffee table, complete with acorn cups.  She was seriously affronted and close to acute internal devastation.  Clearly, a light chuckle from me was not appropriate at this juncture.

Yet sometimes … well, frankly they are just faking.

And they know it, and I know it.

And they know that I know it.

A gentle upturn of the corner of my mouth is enough to reveal the true nature of their actions, as they invariably redouble their efforts to gain my attention, with a challenging look in their eyes that dares me to proceed.  So I do.  For these instances I have developed an effective arsenal of responses:

  • A skeptical look and a grin – is often enough to diffuse the situation and send them happily away to seek out mischief elsewhere
  • Pulling their face back at them and then laughing out loud – shows them how ridiculous they look, and can lead to a fun gurning session
  • A declaration of war – in the form of a challenging “You are SO faking right now!” can often set them giggling too.  When swiftly followed by tickling and a little play-fight this settles things down nicely
  • I do the Strop – depending on the severity and nature of the fake, the kids have a great line in hopping from foot to foot, or stamping their feet.  Copying this can infuriate or delight them in equal measure, but usually makes them laugh in the end.  One time my girl actually went on to make a little dance routine out of it.  This, of course, was a very serious business.  No chuckling allowed.

Some days life can feel a little heavy.  I like to lighten the mood when I can, and most of the time the children appreciate this.  At least, I think they do!  I’m sure they’ll let me know when they have therapy later in life.  By which time I’ll be so old I won’t care, and will have perfected my own version of the geriatric strop.  Funny how life goes full circle!

For Granny …

© seyed mustafa zamani, via Wikimedia Commons

My Mum has been visiting this last week, she left for home this morning.  We see her maybe 5 or 6 times each year.  I miss her.  The children love her.  She is awesome.  We’re all feeling a bit low tonight, so here is a little poem to let her, and Grandparents everywhere, know how much they are loved, and the hole they leave behind when they have to go home.  Love you Mum xxx

 Granny, when you come and stay

Our  smiles they spread out wide,

You’re always there to play with us

At the park, on the swing, on the slide.

Granny, you don’t mind if we

Want to cover you in leaves,

You lay down happy as a lamb

If it makes us smile, you’re pleased.

Granny, you will paint and make

And dance and sing and more,

And even when you tell us off

We love you to the core.

Granny, you will always come

With lots of gifts and toys,

We love them all, but to have you here

Is the very best present of all.

Granny, we know that when you’re here

Our Mummy’s happy too,

She loves you lots and when you’re gone

She’s sad, just like we two.

Granny, when you snuggle up

Beside us on the chair,

We hug in tight and treasure it

Tomorrow you won’t be there.

Granny, when you leave for home

Our smiles they shrink, we cry,

We miss you when you’re not around

Please come back soon, do try!

Do Squirrels Like Sweets?

© Paul Whippey (Own work) – via Wikimedia Commons

Today’s philosophical question – Do Squirrels like sweets?  Okay, so this may be a bit heavy for a Sunday afternoon, but bear with me …

I was sitting doing some peaceful colouring at the kitchen table with my 2.5 year old son, when a red blur streaked past the window arresting the attention of us both.  We looked up the garden.  Nothing there.  We peered around the wall.  Nope, nothing there either.  Joe scratched his head.  He wondered if it was the deer we saw yesterday, lazily chewing dandelion stalks up the field until Joe gave a friendly but loud shout of “Hello Deer!”, and scared the poor creature half to death.  It bounced its way back into the forest in a blink.  Joe cried.

With his interest piqued again today, and keen to make amends to the terrified deer, my boy was not to be deterred from his quest to find the red streak.  So, rainbow picture abandoned, we embarked on a tour of the garden and land.  Minutes later, whilst he and I were knee deep investigating a particularly large molehill, Ella appeared breathlessly from the terrace full of excitement about the red squirrel she had just encountered en route to the front of the house.  From her account of the meeting the unfortunate squirrel was apparently subjected to an equally loud exclamation of some form, and set off for cover in a similar manner to the deer.  In any event, mystery solved.

“It’s a squirrel Joe!  A Squirrel!” she cried.

Joe didn’t look convinced.

“We need to make it a bed a give it some food,” announced my girl, ever the homemaker.

“Can’t me chase it?” asked Joe.

“No, that will scare it,” counselled Ella.

“Oh,” said Joe, beaten.

I left them to it, Ella marshalling Joe into finding grass and leaves for a soft bed, and collecting freshly fallen walnuts from around the two trees that annually shed their crop on our field.  In the early years here we used to collect, dry, store and eat them.  Then we realised that each year the crop was so large we were ending up with a growing (and wasteful) stockpile, so we now only harvest a few kilos each year, and leave the rest to the wildlife.  This keeps the squirrels very busy, and the children entertained.  But that was 12 months ago now, and they have forgotten all over again.

I supplied bowls for water, and shelled walnuts “in case the little squirrels don’t have sharp enough teeth, Mummy.”

All thoughts of the deer forgotten, they worked industriously, and both finally appeared in the kitchen, cheeks glowing with the freshness of the wet autumn day and muddy wellies tracking their progress across the floor.

“Come and look!” said Ella.  So I did.  I found a delightful little haven nestled between two planters.

“The squirrels in our garden are very lucky,” I said.  They beamed.

“I think they need sweets, to give them energy,” attempted Ella.  Nothing to do at all with the fact that this would necessitate breaking open the candy tub, from which she and her patient little brother would surely deserve a treat for being SO nice to the squirrels.  It was nearly lunchtime.

“No,” I said, decisively.  “Squirrels don’t like sweeties.”

“How do you know Mummy?” was the reply ….

Well, actually I don’t.  And I’m not likely to find out anytime soon, as the lunchtime deadline held fast, despite the hard-done-to protestations.

But her question did get me thinking …..!

Borrowed Time

© Jorge Barrios (Own Work), via Wikimedia Commons

© Jorge Barrios (Own Work), via Wikimedia Commons

My little girl stayed up late last night.  While I pottered in the kitchen making a late dinner, she sat at the kitchen table, playing.  At 9pm she was due to go to bed.  I looked across and was about to usher her gently upstairs, when the sounds of her game arrested me.

She was playing with Lego.  Girly Lego, all pinks and purples, and jewel-like door knobs.  She had created a little house and garden, and had entered a world of complete fantasy with a handful of little Lego girls.  She played for fully 45 minutes, totally lost, and making the most adorable voice changes for each character.  I was entranced.

At 5 years old she has just started to get the idea that impeccable behaviour and a low profile can reap the benefit of a later bedtime.  I’m sure this was part of the story, yet there was something else too.  She was playing like she was on borrowed time.  As indeed she was, the Sword of Bedtime hanging perilously over her sweet head.  This ever-present possibility of her game being arrested made her play with a greater enthusiasm and intensity.  The game became more than just a fun thing to do.  It was a means to an end, and charged with excitement as a result.

It made me reflect on how I play with the children.

I’m usually busy (who isn’t!), and playtime is all too often something that is fitted in around other daily obligations.  As I stack blocks, play Princesses or build a den with them I’m having fun, but half my mind is often elsewhere, or thinking about how the mess being created is going to take ages to tidy up.  I feel like I’m short-changing them, and myself.  That’s not a comfortable acknowledgement.

Hmm, what to do?  Then it hit me.

Simple.  

Play like I’m on borrowed time too.  

They grow so fast, one day I’ll realise they don’t really want to play anymore at all.  My new resolution is to leave my adult mind at the door when I enter the play-zone, and access that excitement that comes from truly losing yourself in a game.

Welcome to Kiddiespace!

I am Cally, a writer, and Mummy to two adorable children – Ella, who is 5, and Joe, 2.  Having them in my life has helped me to view the world through fresh eyes, and I like what I see.

Keeping them occupied, and encouraging them to do so independently is both a delight and a challenge, so I’ve created Kiddiespace as a place to share ideas for inspiring your little ones (and bigger ones) to get out there and explore life in all its glory.  There may even be a few sanity-saving posts for parents too, I think I may need them myself.

I hope you like what you read.  Watch this space for fresh content very soon!